Internships Pave the Road to Rewards for Martha Tyler and College of Business

by Laura Merrill, Editor-in-Chief of Career Connection

The University of Louisville College of Business was good to Martha Tyler (’00), who graduated with a degree in Accounting and a minor in Finance (she was just three credit hours shy of a double-major). As a full-time college student raising a daughter, , Tyler needed all of the support she could get. Professors Bill Stout and Julia Karcher stepped in to mentor Martha and encourage her in her studies. “I was the faculty advisor for Beta Alpha Psi when Martha was president, and I came to admire her attitude and enthusiasm,” recalled Karcher.

Not only was Tyler a very good student, she also was actively involved in three student organizations: president of Beta Alpha Psi, vice-president of the Finance Club, and member of the Student Council.

Still, one of the things that Tyler felt she needed to do was participate in an internship. “It gave me the chance to learn first-hand about a field I had learned about in class and really wanted to go into,” she said. Tyler did two internships—one at Arthur Andersen, where she served as a tax intern, and another at Integrity Life Insurance Company, working as a finance intern.

The circumstances surrounding her internship at Integrity Life were unconventional. At the time, the company had just declared bankruptcy and many employees were leaving to find employment elsewhere. So why would an intern want to start working there? The answer came quickly when Tyler found she was going to work directly under the assistant controller, who allowed her to take on tasks that she might not have had the opportunity to work on under normal circumstances. Tyler didn’t waste the opportunity. When supervisors at Ernst & Young (the accounting firm handling the bankruptcy) witnessed her exceptional work ethic, they offered her a position as tax compliance associate just before she graduated from U of L.

Climbing from intern to full-time employee was step one. Next came Tyler’s steady progression from tax compliance associate at Ernst & Young, to advanced staff accountant at Strothman & Co., and to senior operations specialist at Bank of America in Chicago. While at Bank of America, Tyler earned her Six Sigma green belt. (Six Sigma is a disciplined methodology for eliminating defects in any process.) Karcher said, “When Martha told me she had the opportunity to get involved with her company’s Six Sigma training, I encouraged her. This training gave her a transportable skill and also increased her value within the organization, all at no cost to her.”

Tyler’s focused work ethic paid off again. While working for Bank of America in Chicago, she needed to return home to Louisville for family obligations. Bank of America didn’t want to lose Tyler, but they were sympathetic to her situation. They permitted her to work remotely from Louisville on Mondays and Tuesdays, and then return to Chicago to work Wednesday through Friday—while she looked for employment in Louisville.

Back in Louisville, Tyler gave her resume to recruiters. Also, at the urging of one of her mentors, she also contacted College of Business Dean, Charlie Moyer, who referred her to Frank McKinney, director of the Ulmer Center. McKinney contacted several companies on her behalf, including Fifth Third Bank, where Tyler now works as loan review manager. According to McKinney, “Working with Martha is such a pleasure. Not only does she have exceptional skills—which makes it easy to create a lot of interest in her—but she’s also a great person.”

While Tyler has made several career moves since her graduation, she gained financially with each change. She also steadily improved her work-life balance—something that’s very important to her as a single mom. Fifth Third Bank has been especially flexible in that regard. Kay Ray, corporate recruiter for Fifth Third, said, “The bank offers flexible work arrangements to help employees manage work and life responsibilities. Work arrangements can be combined to get the schedule that works best for the employee and the bank.”

Some graduates may take their degree and never look back at the university that helped launch their professional career. Not Tyler. She chose to pay back the support and guidance first by establishing a co-op program at the Bank of America in Chicago, next serving as manager of U of L co-op students for Fifth Third Bank, and finally offering to participate in the College of Business’ new Mentoring Program. (For more information about this program, contact Courtney Hisey in the Ulmer Center at 852-6769.)

U of L was good to Tyler, but McKinney is adamant that Tyler has been good to U of L as well. “She is a good ambassador for the College of Business and its students.”

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